As I see the United States government striving to work out a new budget, trying to devise a way to get the nation out of deep debt, I am reminded of an old hymn: "Give of Your Best to the Master."
How did such a rich country as the U.S. fall into such crushing financial debt? Somewhere in its history, a substantial number of its people quit giving of their best, and started to look out for how much they could take from their fellow Americans.
Certainly we must help the truly needy; God Himself taught Israel to make provision for assisting its widows and orphans and those who are genuinely poor and destitute (e.g. Deuteronomy 14:29; James 1:27). Today, in America, millions languish in unemployment—willing and eager but unable to find work. Shockingly, however, it is not uncommon to find other Americans who avoid work and instead hold out their hands for assistance, neglecting to do all they can to better their own condition.
God's word, the Bible, is full of advice as to how we can prosper by using the abilities God has given us. We read: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). In other words, whatever we set out to do, we should do it with all of our strength, heart, and ability. There was a time when explorers crossed a continent with that ideal in mind. Farmers tended crops with that ideal. Parents reared children with that ideal. People recognized the task at hand, however daunting it may have seemed, and they applied themselves to it with every bit of God-given energy they had.
In 1940, at an eighth-grade commencement ceremony, one speaker extolled the virtue of "Doing the best you can, with what you have, where you are." This was before the U.S. became involved in World War II, at a time when the nation was still reeling from the Great Depression.
I remember that speech so clearly because I was there. Consider the three parts of the speaker's exhortation. The first is to "do our best" the second is "with what we have" and the third is "where you are."
There is a fine line between helping the needy and harming the lazy. A well-administered social safety net provides genuine help to those who cannot help themselves, but a feel-good "handouts" program can actually sap us of our motivation to "do our best."
What about "with what we have"? Consider the example of the Apostle Paul, who wrote about challenges he faced, describing some of his own trials as "weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness" (2 Corinthians 11:25–27).
And the third key—"where you are"? Paul described his ability to adapt to changing circumstances: "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content" (Philippians 4:11). After doing all he could, Paul knew when to "let go" and trust that God would provide His needs (Matthew 6:33–34).
Our world presents many physical, economic and social challenges. It may be tempting to give in to the modern culture of wanting more while doing less. But we should never thumb our noses at God by neglecting His gifts in favor of what may appear to be an "easy way out" of some hardship. Where God has given us the natural resources of ability, talent and drive, we owe it to Him to use those resources to find out what we can accomplish. Our Master demands it!
To learn more about the glorious future for which God is now preparing His people, read our inspiring booklet, Your Ultimate Destiny, or watch our Tomorrow's World telecast, "What on Earth Is God Doing?"